Tifton Gazette

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July 5, 2014

It's been seven years – and the memory still burns

TIFTON — Seven years ago today, Brandi Natasha Cole was reported missing.

According to police reports, Cole was last seen in Tifton on July 7, 2007. She got into a white truck with a black woman and four Hispanic men, and has not been seen since. Cole had led a transient lifestyle, and had been involved with drugs.

Officials believe that Cole may be in Tifton or in Mount Olive, N.C. She is 5 feet, 4 inches, weighs about 145 pounds, has hazel eyes, and has a mole over her upper lip.

The case remains unsolved.

"It's been seven years, and I just don't want people to forget," said Cole's mother, Shellie Auchtung. Cole was reportedly supposed to have spent the evening with Auchtung on July 6, 2007,  along with Cole's daughter, but she never showed.

Cole was 17 at the time.

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that in 1999, the last year there was a comprehensive national study on missing children, there were about 800,000 children under 18 reported missing. Of those, more than 200,000 had been abducted by family members.

It's stating the obvious to say that having a child go missing is a parent's worst nightmare. What do you do if it happens to your family?

According to www.missingkids.com, you should immediately call your local law enforcement agency, then call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.

If your child is missing from your home, thoroughly search closets, piles of laundry, in and under bed, inside large appliances, vehicles and anywhere else a child may crawl or hide.

If you are in a store, notify the store manager or security office, then call local law enforcement.

When you call law enforcement, be prepared to give them your child's name, date of birth, height, weight and any other identifiers like whether your child wears glasses or braces. You should also include information about what your child was wearing.

You should also ask officers to enter your child's information into the National Crime Information Center Missing Persons File. Ask them to issue a Be On The Lookout (BOLO) bulletin. Ask about AMBER alerts. These types of alerts are broadcast over radio, television and smartphones to make the general public, as well as law enforcement personnel, aware that a child is missing.

You will also want to make a list of friends, family members and even acquaintances who might have information about your child's whereabouts. Tell investigators about your child's online activities as well.

You will want to provide recent photos of your child, and distribute them to law enforcement, the media, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other nonprofit organizations that can help.

Designate a person to stay by the telephone, and have that person write down names, telephone numbers, dates and times of calls, and any other pertinent information.

If you have any information regarding Cole's case or whereabouts, call the Tift County Sheriff's Office at 229-388-6021.

To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.

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